Monday, 13 February 2012

Close encounters of the turtle kind

I am melting, it is 40+ degrees and it will be like this for the next few days at least. Therefore, I am taking shelter inside one of Freemantle’s oldest buildings, which also happens to be my current place of residence – I seemed to have fallen on my feet once again.
Whilst I hide from that vicious sun I thought I would take the opportunity to update the blog. Now that I am back on the road proper there is much more to tell so let’s jump right into it and get you as far up to date as I can be bothered to get to.

Continuing from the previous post, it is New Years Day and we are at Sydney airport for an early morning flight to Uluru or Ayres Rock for the old timers.

Flying in to Uluru I got my first view of the ‘red centre’ of Australia and it is just how you imagine, barren and desolate.
Partying it up in Tasmania and Sydney over the past couple of weeks had seen us neglect a couple of vital things for this part of the trip, so once we disembarked from the plane it was time to try and sort out a place to stay and some transport to get us around!
Fortunately I did not have to wait long for the perfect opportunity to fall into my lap. As we literally walked into the terminal the lady behind the Hertz rental car desk put up a sign regarding the relocation of a Ute from Uluru to Alice Springs to be delivered by Jan 5th.
We needed to get from Uluru to Alice for our flight on Jan 5th – lovely jubbly.
So within 20 mins of arriving we left the airport with our transport sorted and it wasn’t just any old transport, it was a bloody Ute mate, you can’t more Aussie than that. I felt all Joe Mangle, bloody oath I did, fair dinkum.

The airport itself is located in the middle of the desert. There is nothing around apart from a small township built purely for tourists to visit Uluru (Ayres Rock) and The Olgas (another rock formation 50kms from Uluru and probably more impressive).
We drove into the township and checked into one of the hideously overpriced hotels. Unfortunately out here you have no choice, you either pay it or kip in the back of the Ute.
The first thing we did was head out to explore The Olgas and to experience what real heat feels like. Once you pass early morning out here a number of the walking trails around the rocks close because if you do not respect the sun you will DIE!
It is true, I saw the signs in huge capital letters – DIE!
Death is advertised every where in central Aus, so beware.

At the Olgas we didn’t get to attempt the fantasy novel sounding Valley of the Winds because it was 2pm and we did not want to DIE. Instead we ventured into a gorge in one part of the Olgas which was shaded and had a small stream, meaning that it would be more difficult for us to DIE.
The rocks themselves are fascinating and the colours are unlike any other rock formations I had ever seen. The red and orange running through them is so vibrant especially with the deep green plants growing around them.

Whilst waiting for sunset we went to seek refuge in a café back at the township as the heat was incredible.
The whole reason tourists visit Uluru is to experience the amazing colour display on the rock at both sunset and sunrise.
You can appreciate my disappointment then at sunset when an overcast sky appeared and sunset was nowhere to be seen. This place is infamous for being super hot with blue skies and no relief from the sun. What the f…
I consoled myself with the fact that sunrise would make up for it.

The alarm went off at 5am and we were up and out heading up to the sunrise vantage point at the rock. Guess what? Yep, the clouds had decided to hang around all night and sunrise was a non-event as well.
By this time I was getting a wee bit agitated but I consoled myself with the fact that I may have missed sunset and I may have missed sunrise, but climbing the rock itself and looking out over the desert would make up for it.

Because you can DIE the rock climb closes at 8am so we jumped into the Ute with Bouncer and drove over to the start.
Guess what? Yep, the climb was closed because of the clouds and possible rain. Apparently the possible rain may cause you to slip and DIE!
By this time I was in a proper bad mood. No sunset, no sunrise and no climb – so what was the point. To add to this I really needed a poo and there were no toilets.
As we were up early and we had time to kill we did another Uluru experience and walked 10.6km around the base of the rock.
After 10mins I had no choice but to go to the toilet aboriginal stylee ie. Behind a bush.
This sort of thing does not bother me but when you are just settling into it and you realise that you have placed yourself in view of the only road for hundreds of kilometres and a car is passing at that very moment, it puts you off a little bit.

The walk itself was good and it was really interesting to see the various male and female sacred sights at differing points around the rock, which were chosen based on the aboriginal interpretations of the rock formations present.

Come midday it was time to say goodbye to Uluru as we headed off to Kings Canyon, a couple of hundred kilometres to the west.
Here we checked into a resort and decided to stay in a room share as we had been spending our money like we had a lot of it and we didn’t!
We shared our room with a Japanese lad who was really nice but also a little crazy given that he was on his way to Alice Springs from Sydney on a dirt bike. When I asked him what he did for work he told me that has was in the Japanese Navy and as he did so he sat to attention on his bed and saluted me. I am not sure why but this really made me laugh.

At the reception of our residence we asked what walks we could do around the actual Kings Canyon (this is why the village is called Kings Canyon – no shit).
She told us about a number of different ones but the best one should be done early in the morning because if you do it in the afternoon you could DIE.
Knowing that we were to leave early the next morning and having already missed out on the Uluru experiences earlier that day I was in no mood to be denied something else.
We drove over to the canyon and sought out the 8km canyon rim walk. Just before we started there was a sign that said not to start the walk after 4pm as you may get stuck up there in the dark, and yes, you have guessed it, you could DIE.
It was 3:50pm – there would be no dying on this day.
The walk itself was brilliant. It started with a very steep climb to the top of the canyon ridge and then the next 6km there was a walk around the rim of the canyon, through a vast rock formation known as the lost city because it really does resemble a lost world from an Indiana Jones movie and walking over fossilised water ripples from ancient rivers that once covered this part of Australia.
Halfway through the walk you descend between 2 ridges and it is at this point that you can enter the ‘Garden of Eden’. A natural waterhole surrounded by 50 metre rock walls on all sides except for the palm tree laden access route over the rocks and boulders. It was about 5pm but the heat was still immense so we stripped off and enjoyed the cool waters.
Once dried off we completed the canyon walk before hanging out on the back of the Ute to watch the sunset light up the canyon a bright orange.

We awoke early the next morning to find our Japanese sailor gone but in his place he left an origami bird, a symbol which I took to mean safe travels and which I still have with me today.
Its mystical eastern powers are real and have helped me. I was carless and without hope in western oz, but one kiss of the bird and a little whisper in its ear saw me as the part owner of a vehicle within 2 hours.
More on that episode of the road trip later.

On this day we got to experience the real outback as Kings Canyon lies at the start of the Mereenie loop. A 200km red dirt road through the outback of Australia that requires a 4x4 vehicle in order to access it.
This day turned out to be one of my favourites so far.
For 2/3 hours we were alone on this road (a recurring theme on our trip and I like it) so if we had broken down we were screwed – but it was great.
Red earth, rocky outcrops and nothing else apart from the raw environment that we found ourselves driving through.
During the drive we came across my first brumbies, wild horse herds that roam around the bush. It was amazing to watch the 2 stallions stand guard across the road to make sure that we stopped so that the rest of the herd could safely cross before then trotting off and letting us carry on our way.

The first stop of the day was Gosses Bluff – a 140million year old 2km wide meteorite crater. We drove into its centre and then clambered halfway up the side of the crater walls to get a better view – no other words to describe it except for awesome and there was not another sole in sight.

Next stop was Red Bank Gorge – a 2km scramble through a dried riverbed to an emerald green waterhole located between a red rocky gorge. We had this to ourselves as well.
Then onto the Glen Helen waterhole followed by the much more commercial Elery Big Hole waterhole. Each waterhole was completely different in appearance from the next but they all had one thing in common – freezing cold water that was much needed in the central Aus heat.

To top of a thoroughly great day a dingo cub decided to run out into the road in front of us and then hung around at the side to allow us to get a few touristy photos.

By late afternoon we approached Alice Springs, the geographical centre of Australia. I am not sure why but the image I had in my head of Alice was of a little town lined with white wooden colonial type buildings with picket fences, just a pleasant old fashioned places.
The reality is that it is quite a large town and it is a shithole and the signs declaring that alcohol in the streets and pornography is prohibited really drills this home.
Alice Springs is also the one town that I have visited in Australia where the past mistreatment of the aboriginals is most prevalent. You cannot step anywhere in Alice without falling over a drunk or homeless aboriginal hanging out on the streets. It is blatant to see that as a collective they have never recovered from the damage done since the British invasion of the 1800’s and our so called ‘education of the savages’.
Saying that, they could still get off their backsides and do something instead of sitting around collecting their benefits.

The Wednesday was all about quad bike adventures. Frosty came to pick us up at 8am in a van with a rego plate saying QUAD, just in case we forgot what we off to do for the morning.
Along with 3 other people we were transported 25mins north of Alice to a cattle ranch, the quad biking location.
The quad biking itself was quite tame but it was still lots of fun speeding around over rocks and dried riverbeds.
This was not just a quad bike experience it was also an educational morning about how the cattle ranch works which was very interesting.
The ranch we were on was over ½ million acres and they use the quad bikes and helicopters to get around and herd the cattle.
The ranch is small though, the largest ranch in the Northern Territory has over 7million acres of land!
Frosty also told us about the feral animals that roam around the ranch such as wild roos, donkeys, horses and camels which will all be shot on sight! As he said this he held an imaginary gun and said “Boom boom!”
Boom boom Frosty, boom boom!

Some fascinating information that Frosty shared with us was about the kids and how they are schooled on these farms. Some farms are located a 1000kms from the nearest big town so in the past the kids were schooled over the radio and today they use the internet for their lessons.
Because they are all so far apart once a year all of these kids are flown to Alice Springs for a week of fun activities and to actually meet their classmates in person. I cannot imagine being as isolated as that.

In the afternoon we visited the Telegraph Station and saw how messages in the 1800’s were sent over the cables all the way from London to the centre of Aus and back (again very interesting and not boring at all) and our final touristic act in central Aus was to visit Anzac Hill for a view over Alice and the surrounding central mountain ranges.

Thursday 5th January saw us back at the airport for our final flight for at least a couple of months as we headed off to Broome and my first foray into Western Australia.

We arrived in Broome at 5:30pm and were greeted by a balmy and humid evening, a totally different kind of heat to the dry scorching sun we experienced in central Aus. We were now in the tropics!
Fortunately we had the foresight to book a hostel whilst waiting to board the plane in Alice so we were able to jump straight into the hostel’s van that we had arranged to pick us up.
Broome isn’t huge so within 10mins of leaving the airport we were checking into the hostel.
The hostel was located 10mins walk from the infamous Cable Beach so the first thing we did was head down to the beach to watch the sunset over the Indian Ocean.
One of the ‘must do’ touristy things in Aus is to ride a camel along Cable Beach at sunset and it wasn’t long before we saw a number of camels being led down the road. We didn’t actually bother doing the ride ourselves as we have both done that sort of thing before in India and we were in Broome to buy a vehicle so spending $50 each on a camel ride was not in the budget!
As we approached the beach we also spotted an owl in a palm tree, which is not something you see everyday.
Little did I realise at that point how much wildlife spotting I would be treated to in Western Australia. Alongside the geology Western Aus is a mecca for getting up close and personal with natural environment.

The sunset itself was pretty spectacular as has every other sunset that we have sat down to watch over our trip down the west-side (a’ight) of Australia. Each sunset has been an individual experience with each one producing is own array of colours and effects on the sky and clouds around it.
To celebrate arriving in WA we went to the bar overlooking Cable Beach for a couple of drinks and were treated to some free food by the chef as he thought he had been shouting to loud at his kitchen staff, the kitchen being near to our table. Cheers!

The next day was all about searching for a vehicle. The plan was to buy something cheapish that would allow us to drive the 8,000ish kms back to Melbourne and also serve as a home.
We walked all over town, visited every hostel and supermarket notice board and even saw a couple of options parked up in front of us.
We also went to the visitor centre – a traveller’s best friend, they know everything – and asked them for any recommendations such as the second hand car dealer just out of town.
We also got the tourist tips on things to keep ourselves busy with when we were not searching for vehicles.
One of these tips was a bar that brews its own alcohol, so we decided to take a break for lunch and treat ourselves to some home brewed ginger beer and chilli beer – and yes it was spicy enough that we had to suck cold air in through our teeth to try and cool our mouths down.

By the end of the day we were very hot and tired but we did have a number of possibilities on the car front.
It is just as well that we had a swimming pool at the hostel the cool ourselves down in – oh that’s right, it was 30+ degrees, about 80% humidity and the hostel swimming pool was empty for repairs, great!
We sat down and made some phone calls about the cars and they were either already sold or we couldn’t get through.
We arranged to go and view one campervan but in all honesty it was out of our price range.
Our only other option was the second hand car dealer who I had spoken to and he said that he would be around until midday the next day. Failing that we would have to leave town and search at the next place down the coast (only 700kms away).

During our search we came across a hostel that was far superior to our own ie. It had a swimming pool and also had bikes for hire – just what was required for us to get to this car dealership.
So early on Saturday morning we got up, I kissed the origami stork for good travel luck, which I was still carrying, and we caught the local bus to the new hostel.
The kiss worked because after getting up at 8am, getting to the new hostel by 9am, hiring bikes and sweating our arses off riding to the dealership by 10am, we were the proud owners of a Nissan campervan by 11am! Yee-haw.

We were under no illusions that we had not bought the newest of vehicles but considering our options and the fact that we wanted to get on the road asap we were delighted with our purchase.
As you would expect the dealer, George, was a character and a proper wheeler-dealer. He was a Scots man who had been in Aus for 60yrs and he wasn’t short of a few quid; by probably selling shitheaps to backpackers like us.
A good example of his spiel was when we were taking the van for a test drive he said don’t go too far, as you can see by the fuel gage there isn’t much petrol in the tank. It was only once we had gotten on the road that we realised that this was code for, the fuel gage doesn’t work so it will always read as empty.

Anyway, when all was said and done we had our ‘home’ and our ticket back to Melbourne via Western and Southern Aus for a mere $1,990. We were buzzing.
As the paperwork was done in my name this also happened to be the first vehicle that I have ever owned (part owned). I have been driving for 14yrs but have always used other people’s cars so it was quite a moment for me. I had always dreamed that my first car would be an Aston Martin but beggars can’t be choosers, so a run down Nissan van with a bed frame constructed in the back of it and near to 392,000kms on the clock will have to do.
It was a nice feeling that we left the hostel on bikes and came back with the bikes in the back of our van!
We spent the rest of the afternoon kitting our new home out – buying cooking equipment and bedding etc and then celebrated with a couple of beers and a skype call home to show mum and dad our new wheels which we had named George in honour of the dealer.

One amusing thing happened whilst we were in the shops buying our bedding. We couldn’t find the location of a few things so we asked a young worker for some assistance. She told we could find such and such in this section or that but when I asked where we could find the bedding she lent back, raised her arms and like a gangster talking to her homies said “check the home section”.
I think she may have been a little embarrassed as we walked off laughing doing gangster impressions saying “home section” to each other.

This day also marked the day that my hair was long enough to have a proper pony tail. I look like a slightly thinner Steven Segal (oh yeah ladies) and my dad said I looked like a faggot, but I like it.

That evening we went to the cinema but it was no ordinary picture house. This was the world’s oldest outdoor cinema, so we sat down to watch Mission Impossible 4 (very average) with ice cream and popcorn on deckchairs with bats flying overhead and across the screen.
That night we went to sleep dreaming of the roadtrip that was to come and the fact that it would be a while before we slept in a real bed again.

Broome was a really nice place and I definitely would like to go back one day. It has a sort of Thailand appearance and atmosphere to it, lots of palm trees, very warm and also very laid back.
I also have 2 other reasons to return so that I have completed the Broome experience.
1) Real dinosaur footprints – these are located in the rocks below the lighthouse but you can only view them at extreme low tides which wasn’t going to occur for a few more days and we had to be on the move
2) The staircase to the moon – a natural phenomenon that happens during the autumn when the moon is low in the sky and when it passes over the mud flats the reflection gives off an optical illusion of a staircase leading you up to the moon

The next morning we up early because it was ROAD TRIP day.
We climbed into George, looked at each other very excitedly and we set off. We decided to make our first stop at Port Hedland – a mining town situated 700km south of Broome. As you know Aus is a big place and we had to cover 1,300km before we would reach anything worth visiting.
Driving on the roads up here is a lesson in keeping yourselves entertained. There is nothing to look at and I mean nothing. The land stretches out to the horizon and it is just flat and covered only in scrub.
You are lucky to see another vehicle on the road as well so when you do finally cross paths it is the culture that you should acknowledge each other with a little wave, a finger or a tip of the hat.
Then there are the road trains – supply trucks that pull 3 or 4 trailers behind them, travel at 120kms p/h and make the van feel as though it will be sucked off the road as they overtake you.
The road trains are also the reason that you smell death on the roads at frequent intervals. In the north west of WA it is roaming cattle rotting at the roadside and further down it is the huge kangaroos.
With the extreme heat the stench of death is disgusting and it gets right into the van and up into your nostrils. Yuk.

We knew we were in north-west WA during cyclone season but it was a calculated risk as it was only the beginning of the season. However, it didn’t take long for us to experience a decent storm during the first 200kms of the road trip.
We watched the storm rage for about 30mins over the plains in the distance until we reached it ourselves.
It was immense and when we drove through the middle of it I am not exaggerating when I say that the lighting hit the earth seriously close to us and the sound of the thunder overhead sounded like a bomb going off. It shook the van and we were scared and exhilarated at the same time.

This storm also highlighted a feature of the van that George has failed to point out during his sales talk – the en-suite shower!!
The seal between the roof and the back door was non-existent so during a heavy rain the water leaked in at a fairly constant rate – we were not impressed.

After a long drive of 700kms we arrived in Port Hedland and it was horrible. The town is there purely because of the mines so you can sense the testosterone in the air as you approach.
The landscape was industrial and the roads full of road-trains with every single driver checking Arancha out because there was a serious lack of decent looking women around.
All we did that night was find a place to sleep near to a park and cooked our food by the harbour watching the sunset over a huge oil tanker.

The next morning it was raining heavily and we were very aware of this because the van was leaking again!
We didn’t realise at the time but 2 days after we left Port Hedland a cyclone hit the region so we were quite lucky really.

Before setting off we noticed that one of the front tyres had gone down overnight. On closer inspection it became apparent that we had just driven 700kms through a storm on the van’s spare tyre ie. It was a crap tyre and was one of those small ones that you should only really do 50kms on to the nearest tyre shop.
So the first task of the day was to find a mechanic who could change the tyre and repair the original which we were carrying in the boot.
Fortunately, we found a surfy type dude working at the mechanics who was a traveller himself so he did us a deal.

Whilst waiting for the repairs to be done a joint decision was made that the van was no longer worthy of the name George – the dude had sold us a death trap!
Over the xmas period we watched a lot of Spartacus on the laptop so we renamed the van Dominus which means Master in Roman.
The way we saw it we now had to pay the utmost respect to our van to make sure that he got us back to Melbourne, so you can’t get much more respectful than calling the van Master.

Once repaired and now ‘road worthy’ we used Port Hedland for one final thing. We still did not have a mattress for the back of the van so we located a small furniture shop and found a mattress that fit the van as though it had been made just for us. A great result even though the salesman was a complete condescending dick who told me to hurry up with the measurements as he was a very busy man – one look around the store said to me that he wasn’t that busy as it was empty.

After a quick shop we were on the road heading south east inland to the Karijini National Park.
The entire drive to the park was made under the dark and threatening cyclone storm clouds. The en-suite shower was doing over time and I cursed George all of the way.
The reason for heading to Karijini was to explore the gorges set amongst billion year old rocks and to also climb to the top of the park’s highest peak.
We arrived late afternoon and we couldn’t see a thing. The rain continued to pour at a phenomenal rate, so much so that the arid land was now awash with new streams and rivers.
No sooner had we parked up at one gorge (the plan was to wait it out and try again in the morning) a ranger pulled up beside us to tell us that the park was to be closed. The cyclone was heading this and if we stayed the rains would see us potentially land locked amongst the floods for at least a week!
It was a very simple decision to start the van and get the hell out of there.

We were amongst 3 campervans that headed out of the park to the nearest petrol station to fill up and get away from the area asap.
At the petrol station I decided to stretch my legs and had one of those chance meetings that changes the course of your travel and you can’t imagine how the trip would’ve gone without it.
A stoner clambered out of one of the other campervans and approached me.
Stoner: “Hey maaaaaan, what is it with all of this rain?”
Me: “I know, it’s shit isn’t it. Where are you guys heading?”
Stoner: “We are going to head back south now, are you going to Exmouth?”
Me: “I’m not sure, the travel book doesn’t really recommend it”
Stoner: “You gotta go maaaaan, it’s awesome. The beaches are great maaaaaan”

So that was that, based upon a stoned guys words we decided to go against the travel book and head that way as we now had saved 2 days due to the rains. And the title of this post is testament to the amazing experience we had because of this guy.

We drove for a couple more hours that day and spent the night sleeping in a supermarket car park next to another campervan.
Arancha was not pleased with the lack of loo privacy but when you are on the road a tree is nature’s toilet and a bloody good one at that.

Midday the next day we were in Exmouth. The rains hadn’t reached here so it was blue skies and hot sunshine. Upon entering the town I got my first sight of wild emus – there was a flock of them just hanging out by the roadside having a little lunch.
The first task was to get the local intel from the visitor centre. We do this in every town as whom better to tell you where to go, where you can get away with free camping and generally what good stuff you can do.
The lady was helpful-ish (I have had some bad customer experiences in WA, my only gripe about the state) and she highlighted where to go in Exmouth, b it was the information about Ningaloo Marine Park that was to be the highlight and where the stoner has meant to send us.
We had planned to go here anyway but we had misread the map and didn’t realise that Exmouth was the entrance to the park itself. We had planned to head to the coast and hit some of the Ningaloo reef but we would’ve missed all of the good shit.

Like Broome, Ningaloo is also another place that we will be returning to one day. Whale season occurs during the months of Apr to Jun along the coast of western Aus and Ningaloo is the location to swim with whale sharks – it is another thing on the very long list.

We hadn’t showered for a couple of days at this point so we parked up by a caravan park and just sauntered into the place to use the amenities. If you do not look guilty or shifty then you can get away with most things.

Once freshened up we bought some supplies (including some silicone sealer for the en-suite shower) and a snorkel to explore the reef and back of the van with if the sealer didn’t work.

Before actually entering the marine park there was enough to explore for the rest of day. By the way, entering the park means passing a ranger at a little office and paying $11 for the day and once in you are on your own in the wilderness. National parks here all about looking after yourself, not the organised you can step here but don’t go here rubbish you get back home.

First we checked out a shipwreck just off one of the beaches. WA has many pioneer shipwrecks from the 1800’s along its coastline.
Then we explored a few of the beaches, which is when we came upon the turtle centre.
The turtle centre was a small wooden decked area with a few signs explaining that these beaches are used between Jan and Mar by Green Turtles as breeding grounds. We again excitedly looked at each other and said it’s January now, I wonder if we will see any.
A 30metre walk to the beach told all we needed to know – the beach was covered in turtle tracks and big holes where the turtles had laid there eggs and covered them before returning to the sea.
At this point we were buzzing and there was only once place we would be spending the early part of that evening. To confirm the evening ahead would be one of those one-off wildlife experiences we looked out to sea to see a couple of turtles swimming around waiting for the sunset.

For the remaining part of the afternoon we worked out where we would free camp that evening. Free camping in Aus is prohibited in most places and you can be fined if caught – it is just a case of being smart about it. We found a cool little parking spot by one of the turtle beaches that had a toilet and an outdoor rainwater shower but overnight camping was not allowed. No worries, the drive up to the lighthouse opposite had no such signs so we used the car park for cleaning and eating and the magnificent ocean views from the lighthouse as a place to sleep. We did this for 2 nights and I only was caught once naked under the shower because nobody else was around. I like being naked in the wilderness – it is how nature intended it to be.
The only worry I had under the shower was the most beautiful eagle that would perch just above us on a tree each evening and watch my worm wiggling about. True!

That evening we drove to the top of the lighthouse, got out the crackers and dip, filled up our bone china Tasmanian devil mugs with wine and sat back to watch what nature had to offer – another stunning sunset.
We also did a bit of DIY on the van and fixed up the leak – it has only rained twice in the following 5 weeks but the inside of Dominus is as dry as my bank account.

As soon as the sun had set we made the arduous 2 min drive down the hill to the beach for some turtle action.
As soon as we were on the beach we looked left, we looked right, we looked right in front of us and then we looked to each other with faces like kids on Xmas morning – the turtles were everywhere.
We sat there for 2 hours and watched numerous turtles drag themselves out of the ocean and up onto the beach. It would take them about 30mins to get high enough up before they began shifting the sands away with the front flippers to create a hole large enough to lay their eggs. The general rule of thumb was that if the sand flicking off the flippers was hitting you then you were too close.
I have seen this a few times on the tv but I never thought that I would get to be David Attenborough myself and get so close to these huge turtles and watch something so private. We felt very privileged.
Apart from our little torch it was completely dark around us allowing us to gaze up at the 1000’s of stars and the Milky Way.
Whilst viewing the night sky Arancha pointed out my first ever satellite passing overhead. She couldn’t believe that I had never seen one before and that as kids they would always lie on the grass and look up to see who could spot the first one passing over.
That is a bad thing about the UK as there is far too much light pollution to ever get a good look at the stars. To date I have now seen 7 satellites in the night sky and you can tell how high up they are in relation to each other depending on how quickly they pass by. I saw 4 in one night when we spent an evening star gazing at an observatory, I saw the lines of Jupiter and its moons as well – but that is for another post.
The next morning we were up early as the sun was cooking us in the van.
I have to say that it was quite nice to emerge from the van with the views of the oceans from the lighthouse. We cooked up an omelette for breakfast and sat back with an enormous sense of wellbeing that this was to be our lives for the next few weeks – it wasn’t half bad!

We went in to the park itself today and it was a day of the usual sort of stuff – turquoise oceans, white sands, snorkelling in the Oyster Stacks (Latner - I didn’t see Stackers) amongst a huge array of sea-life, cooked up a lamb chop and salad lunch (we do this road-trip shit properly) at T-Bone beach (it made me think of Leeroy) and observed more emus, eagles and gala’s (which made me think of Alf Stewart from Home and Away – “You flaming Gala!”).

We had T-Bone beach to ourselves for the afternoon or so we thought. We were frolicking around in the ocean and talking about how lucky we were with the turtles when all of a sudden a green head popped up for air about 10 metres away. We stayed very still waiting for it to come up again when another one surfaced even closer, it was so cool.
I ran out of the sea as fast as I could and retrieved the snorkels from Dominus to try and get an even better view and to even try to swim with them. I was so eager to get in that I failed to notice a huge rock just under the surface of the sea (the water was crystal clear so I am not sure how I missed it) and I kicked it as I fell into the water. I didn’t think about it at the time because I was so desperate to to swim with the turtles but later that day it hurt a lot and for the next 3 days it leaked a lovely liquid, all green and yellow in colour – nice but these things have to be done, there were turtles about!
After all of that I didn’t even get close to the turtles! They were too quick and as soon as I was approaching they were off to safer waters.

The evening was a carbon copy of the previous. Naked shower, keeping a close eye on the eagle, sunset and wine at the lighthouse and back down to the beach to spend the evening with the turtles.
This night was even better. On this night we were treated to turtles all around us whilst an offshore lightning show raged to the right over the ocean. We didn’t know where to look, the turtles were there but the lightning was some of the best I have seen, forked and sheet, lighting up the dusk sky.

You all know that I want the best of the best when it comes to anything that I do and it annoys me if someone get’s a better experience than me if we are doing the same thing.
Well there was a couple sitting just down the beach from us and they had a great view of a turtle to their left-hand side. Like a sulky kid I moaned to Arancha that I want a turtle that close – I probably sounded like Veruca Salt in Willy Wonker.
Fortunately I didn’t end up down a golden egg chute but I did get the turtle that I wanted. We watched open mouthed as a turtle crawled out of the sea, made its way up the beach and passed within 2 metres of me. I was sat on a beach making eye contact with a turtles half the size of myself.
It stopped just behind me and my reward for this close encounter was a face full of sand as it began to dig. Observing the rule of thumb it was time for us to leave and let it get on with its business.

So that was that, we left the next day and headed down the coast for many more crazy Western Australia experiences. Hopefully I will be able to get these to you in the near future.

Hope you are all well people.